Microsoft has no plans to bring its Windows 10 software to tablets running Windows RT. That means the Surface 2, Surface RT, Nokia Lumia 2520, and a handful of other tablets with ARM-based chips and Windows software won’t get all the fancy new Windows 10 features coming to Windows phones and x86-based PCs.
But Microsoft isn’t quite pulling the plug on Windows RT. The company tells CNET and The Verge that it does plan to release software updates that will bring some Windows 10 features to its Surface tablets.
Windows RT was Microsoft’s first attempt to bring Windows to tablets with ARM-based processors. It looks just like Windows for devices with Intel or AMD processors, but it lacks the ability to run classic desktop apps written for x86 processors, sometimes referred to as Win32 apps.
So while there’s a desktop mode on Windows RT devices like the Surface 2 and Surface RT, you can only really use it for the file explorer and Microsoft Office apps. If you want to install third-party apps you’re pretty much limited to the full-screen, “modern” style apps available from the Windows Store.
During this week’s Windows 10 launch event, Microsoft said that the upcoming Windows operating system is designed to run on a range of devices including phones, tablets, notebooks, desktops and entirely new devices like the 84 inch Surface Hub digital whiteboard and conferencing system.
The software that runs on phones with ARM-based chips will probably be a bit different from the PC version of Windows 10, but they’ll both be able to support a new type of app Microsoft calls Universal Windows Apps which are designed to run on different chip architectures, different screen sizes, and on devices with touchscreens or a keyboard and mouse.
It’s not yet clear which Windows 10 features Microsoft plans to bring to existing Surface tablet users. But it sounds like if you want to buy a Surface tablet today and know that it’ll be able to run Windows 10 when it’s released later this year, you’ll probably want to opt for a Surface Pro tablet. The Microsoft Surface Pro, Pro 2, and Pro 3 are all powered by Intel processors and each should be able to run Windows 10.
As for non-Surface devices, Microsoft suggested that the PC version of Windows 10 will be available for devices with 8 inch and larger screens (and probably devices with x86 chips), while the mobile version of Windows 10 is designed for smartphones and tablets with screens smaller than 8 inches.